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Real Candy Canes

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“From Chef Michael Chiarello on the CBS Early Show. WARNING: Be Extremely Careful - high heat temperature of the sugar could cause severe burns Employ The Use Of "Silpats" - silicon mats that prevent the hot sugar from sticking (they can be a little costly, but they last a very long time) Use Rubber Gloves - to protect the hands from burning during the cane formation process”
20 pieces

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 12 cups granulated sugar
  • 9 tablespoons water
  • 1 12 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract or 1 teaspoon wintergreen extract or 1 teaspoon anise flavoring
  • 12 teaspoon red food coloring or 12 teaspoon green food coloring or 12 teaspoon white food coloring


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place a cookie sheet with a small silpat on the top rack inside the oven.
  3. For two or more colors, stagger the cookery by 15 or 20 minutes to make the process of forming the sugar syrup into a workable mass easier.
  4. In a two-quart non-reactive saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, and vinegar.
  5. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and insert a candy thermometer.
  6. Bring the sugar syrup to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. It will be necessary to keep the inside of the saucepan clean while the sugar melts and cooks.
  8. To do this, dip a clean pastry brush in cold water, then brush the inside of the pot just over the syrup line to keep crystals from forming.
  9. When the syrup is a couple of degrees from the desired temperature, carefully add the flavoring.
  10. Immediately transfer the syrup to a silpat pastry mat by pouring slowly onto the surface.
  11. Add the food color to the syrup and swirl with a wooden skewer to blend it into the sugar syrup.
  12. Do this very carefully and do not touch the syrup.
  13. It will remain VERY hot for quite some time.
  14. To keep the syrup from running off the mat as it begins to cool, gently lift the mat from the sides to keep the syrup contained.
  15. As the syrup cools, it will become malleable along the sides.
  16. As it does this and using the silpat mat as a tool, fold the syrup onto itself toward the center of the pool.
  17. Continue to do this until a soft mound results.
  18. When the hardened syrup can be handled, gently knead and pull the sugar until it becomes glossy.
  19. This will also incorporate the color throughout the mass.
  20. Transfer the soft candy to the oven to keep it warm.
  21. Keep an eye on it and keep rotating the sugar and the tray to keep the temperature consistent.
  22. For the second color, repeat the process as above after the first 15 minutes of cookery.
  23. Place the two or more colors enough apart so they do not touch each other.
  24. To make a candy cane, carefully pull a small amount from each color, about an ounce, and cut with a scissors.
  25. Form each color into a one-inch by three-inch rectangle.
  26. Place each piece on top of each other.
  27. Working on another silpat mat on another sheet tray placed over the open oven door, roll the sugar until it is round and apply a small amount of pressure while doing this.
  28. It is important to keep the sugar warm and slightly soft while you do this.
  29. Gently twist and pull the sugar to begin the candy cane then continue to roll in the same manner.
  30. Repeat this process until the candy "rope" is eight to ten inches long.
  31. Carefully transfer the rope to another silpat on a work surface.
  32. Shape one end of the rope to finish the candy cane.
  33. Let cool up to 30 minutes.
  34. This can also be done on a lightly butter smooth marble or stone surface.
  35. Repeat procedure for each candy cane.
  36. It is important to maintain the warm and soft texture of the sugar at all times when making the candy canes.
  37. This will take some practice both with the process of making the candy canes and finding the best way to keep the heat consistent.
  38. When the candy canes are hardened, they can be held up to three days if kept in an airtight container.
  39. Parchment or wax paper works well once cooled and ready for storage in the containers.

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